The oldest son of Rev. A.R. Bernard, pastor of Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, NY, was remembered as a loving father, fun-loving uncle, and grateful son on Thursday night. Alfonso Bernard Jr. passed away from an asthma attack on February 4th. He is survived by his wife and four children.
At the homegoing service, which was held at the Christian Cultural Center and streamed online, younger brother Jamaal Bernard read from 2 Corinthians 5 with his father standing beside. The elder Bernard appeared tired and worn as his son broke down while reading the Scripture.
Singer and pastor BeBe Winans officiated the service.
Brooklyn community and political leaders were on hand to show support for the Bernard family which is well-respected in New York City civil and religious circles. Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, New York State Senator John L. Sampson, NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, and Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson were all on hand.
Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke, telling the church family, ‘It’s impossible to miss the sense of family and shared destiny here.’ He told the Bernards, ‘We’re all going to walk with you. We’re all going to lift you up, just like you’ve lifted up so many people. We’ve lost a great and devout young man, who was part of a great family.’
Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the executive vice-president of the New York Board of Rabbis, said that Alfonso Bernard’s ‘life was unfinished, but during that life, he was a masterpiece.’
Bishop Dale Bronner, pastor of Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral in Austell, GA, praised A.R. Bernard and his wife for the way they raised all of their children.
Alfonso Bernard’s four children — Alfonso III, Justin, Christian and Karcyn — read a letter they wrote to their father. And over a dozen nieces and nephews came onstage to express what “Uncle Fonz” meant to each of their lives. (A fund has been established for A.R. Bernard’s children, and nearly $20,000 has been raised in two days on GoFundMe.)
Rev. A.R. Bernard spoke, reading a letter written in the voice of his son. The letter expressed Alfonso Jr.’s love for his six brothers (Jermaine, Jamaal, Jhared, Naishon, Ariel and Shemier), his parents, his wife Janel, the CCC church family, and his extended family. Bernard said that he was in Singapore when he received word that his oldest son had died. ‘The flight back to the States was only twenty hours, but felt more like forty hours.’ During that time, Bernard said he found comfort and refuge in the Bible and in God.
Rev. Bernard said his son ‘was larger than life, he had a big heart, and he lived to make sure that everybody was okay.’ He added, ‘My son Alfonso was a believer, and death, for him, was a portal for life. No more asthma, no more heavy burdens, no more heavy weights. Now, he is cheering us on.’ Turning to his wife, Karen, Rev. Bernard said, ‘You did a good thing bringing him into this world. And God saw fit that he would leave right now.’